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Cannabis Confessions: ‘Altered State’ Visitors Share All

August 18, 2016
California Altered State exhibit Cannabis Confessional
The Oakland Museum’s Altered State exhibit promotes no particular viewpoint, but it pushes hard for one outcome: increased introspection and conversation around this loaded topic.

“A strong impulse in the marijuana community is to go right for political slogans,” exhibit curator Sarah Seiter told Leafly. “We wanted to encourage more reflective and personal interactions, so we’ve tried to prime people to respond.”

To that end, half a dozen venues within the exhibit invite visitors to express their feelings, opinions, and experiences through writing or drawing.

In the political section, visitors decorated miniature lawn signs:

“Build Schools, Not Jails — Legalize Marijuana”

“Put the Power of Healing and Wellness back into the Hands of the People and Away from Pharma”

“Adults have the right to choose, but how do you make sure kids don’t feel pressured because parents are doing it?”

Another sign asks: “Have you been ticketed for marijuana? Tell us what happened using our Police Report Forms.” The completed forms are filed in a book. One visitor recalled an incident in Anaheim, where six officers surrounded a 50-year-old woman and her 60-year-old husband. They cited the husband for possession and took his medicine, driver’s license, medical marijuana card, and Disneyland passport. Advice: Don’t medicate in the Disneyland parking lot.

In the exhibit’s area dedicated to spirituality, a large red bulletin board asks: “Do you use marijuana in your spiritual life?”

An answer confidently penned in black marker states: “It helps strip away my ego, pulls me back to see ‘The Big Picture’ and see people for who they really are.”

But it’s the cards filled out anonymously, behind the blue velvet curtains of the Cannabis Confession booth, that convey the widest range of responses:

“I don’t see anything wrong with moderate use — but I think stoners are just like alcoholics. If you need to smoke when you wake up and smoke all day long you have a problem.”

“Marijuana makes me desire my husband. Without it, I would pursue my love of women.”

“I hate seeing people in the ‘profiting’ section are overwhelmingly white and in the “who gets penalized section” it’s overwhelmingly people of color.”

“I wish my 7 year old son with severe autism could try this for anxiety and migraines so he could leave the house.”

“Weed has gotten too strong! It was way more fun when 1 puff didn’t render me stoopid.”

“It’s so available in this state that it needs to be regulated. And if it becomes legal, it’ll be like gay marriage: nobody will think much about it after the years of resistance.”


Altered State: Marijuana in California is showing at the Oakland Museum of California through Sept. 25.